02nd April 2020
by Derek Lewis
Head of Customer Experience
It’s been a week since Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, placed the UK on a police-enforced lockdown as part of new measures to combat the Coronavirus outbreak. In that time we’ve witnessed organisations up and down the country taking measures to move staff into remote working and – as detailed in our previous blog – utilising the digital workplace to better equip employees to work from home.
Whilst this might seem like a straight-forward transition for some roles, one specific community of new home workers that will need to mature and adapt quickly are Customer Experience staff – especially those working as Contact Centre agents, and their management teams.
The additional system, security, and environmental requirements to enable CX staff to perform their tasks, as well as dealing with the new organisational, advisory, and motivational challenges that will come with remote working, are a big concern. Fortunately, solutions to enable home agent working have been available for some time now, with technology vendors promoting benefits such as: flexible hours, increased staff retention, and a wider talent pool alongside reduced office costs and environmental benefits.
Historically, adoption of these solutions has been slow. This is perhaps due to a lack of investment in essential back-office systems, supporting knowledge sources, and training and collaboration tools. However, to deal with the current disruptions due to the Coronavirus outbreak, organisations will need to embrace new technology and operational procedures to evolve many aspects of remote CC working.
Much will need to be learned on the fly as things continue to change for UK businesses on an almost day-to-day basis. However, we all need to start somewhere.
Here are some key jumping off points for your business to consider in best enabling your agents to work from home, remain productive, and keep customer operations running through this period of disruption:
1) Consider environmental factors: The need for high call quality is paramount but background noise in family homes or limitations in broadband bandwidth may affect voice quality. Noise–cancelling headphones will help, but if a member of staff has a particularly difficult working environment at home, consider switching the agent from voice tasks to digital channels. Allocating them to customer engagements via Chat, SMS, Social or email, can reduce bandwidth concerns and eliminate noise issues – at least for the customer!
2) Agility and access to appropriate resources will be key: Agents and supervisory staff also need to be able to manage shift patterns and availability. There are a plethora of solutions relating to resource forecasting and scheduling which will help a great deal, but with so many people remaining at home across the country, the usual calling patterns and peak volumes will change dramatically and probably be unpredictable for a while until things settle down.
3) At the end of the day CX is about people: It will become increasingly more important to keep your employee morale in mind. After all, it is difficult to disguise your tone when under pressure or lacking in confidence working in isolation. New ways will be found to emulate the contact centre camaraderie and maintain the feeling of ‘community’. Similarly, support from peers, mentoring, coaching, collaboration and training will all need to evolve to support individuals.
More than ever, organisations will need to continue their focus on digital channel transformation and the diversion of appropriate enquiries to self-service and automated response systems. This will help manage overall volumes as the staff needs to focus on the more complex and emotional enquiries that need special attention in these difficult times. You can find out more about Maintel’s CX solutions here.